Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015, Derek Bowman


Being something of a sucker for the Classics, this theme of PLAYS on the names of GREEK authors is right up my alley. I especially enjoy the fact that some stock crosswordese - "ARI" and "NES" - is broken out of the last two. And the first one is hilarious: HIPPOCRATES (17A: Packing boxes for heavyweights?). And to top it off, Mr. Bowman couldn't help himself and added two poets (symmetrically!) to the list of names, PINDAR and SAPPHO (16A: Whom Plato called "the tenth Muse"). How'd you like to have someone give you that epithet? And how about if it were Plato who gave it to you? Not bad. It would be nice if, someday when the technology allows, they find a scroll or two of her poems in that Hall of Papyri at Herculaneum. Maybe. Someday, they'll find more from the one who lived on that ISLA in the Northern Aegean...

So with all that highbrow stuff in the grid, it's a little jarring to look back and see that TOPCOPS (1A: Early 1990s CBS series about the exploits of real-life police officers) (C-) started it all off. And MMMBOP (41A: 1997 #1 hit with a nonsense title) seems similarly out of place, but at least that is crossed by MTETNA. The longest Downs, often a place to find high-quality fill, are today on the weaker side - PRICIEST (6D: Least affordable) & HAMSTEAK (34D: Slab from the meat counter). Nothing to write home about, but not terrible either.

But let's not dwell on the lesser material today. A theme this entertaining lets you overlook the pluralized TOSHES, the SEERS and ESSES, in short, the PAP. Let's BANTER instead about better fill like CONCOCT (38A: Come up with), SEATTLE (55A: Where Nordstrom is headquartered), and CREWCUT (26A: Buzz).

Overall, very good Thursday, even without a rebus.

Favorite clue/answer - 40D: Apt anagram of MY CAR (CAMRY). Ahh... crossword people... :)

- Horace


  1. 13:01
    I tore through this one before work. I'd have given TOPCOPS a B-, maybe, but other than that I wouldn't SPAR with Horace too much on the review. Interesting parsing needed for DEMOSTHENES and ARISTOPHANES both. Not accustomed to seeing the full ALCAPP, MTETNA or ORELSE in a grid, so that was nice. Nothing too racy, and nothing slowed me down at all, although OCEANS (39D Loads and loads) is never an answer that's too forward in my mind with such a clue.

  2. 6:28
    My mother and I polished this off too quickly. I love love love the theme. Didn't love the rest.